Over the last week, we have been brought face to face with misogyny. Some have concluded that it was just “macho talk,” “locker room talk,” or “nothing more than words.” It was nothing more than misogynistic trash. Yet, some critics of the Bible say Christians should not judge because the biblical writers teach and endorse misogyny. Is this true? Does the Bible support misogynistic behavior?
What Is Misogyny?
What is misogyny? Misogyny is the attitude or behavior of demeaning, degrading, abusing or violating women. It is treating women as intellectually and spiritually inferior to men. This kind of treatment allows for people to physically, verbally and emotionally abuse women. Now, misogyny comes in all forms. My passionate and fiery sister, Ashley O’rel, gave a pretty comprehensive list of misogynistic attitudes and behavior: Sexual abuse, rape, sexual abuse of a child, making excuses for abusive language, dismissing comments of sexual assault as “locker room talk”, financial abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, speaking for them, treating them as juvenile and incapable of making own decisions, speaking of women as objects, expecting women to fulfill porn like fantasies, adultery, putting a spouse at risk for an STD, embarrassing women with sexist remarks, the gender gap, speaking on issues solely related to women as if it is their experience, and controlling behavior. If you want to read a classic case of modern misogyny, read here. However, the Bible summarily condemns this behavior. But, why would some people think that the Bible teaches misogyny?
Many critics of the Bible use several passages to attempt to prove that the Bible practices misogyny. One of the main passages is Ephesians 5:24. Paul instructs wives to submit to their husbands. Many Bible critics would say that this passage proves the Bible creates a misogynistic environment and objectifies women.
But, if we read the entire passage (Ephesians 5:24-28), we see something very different. First, the husband is commanded to love his wife like Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the church? He gave himself up for her. Christ does not demean or abuse his bride. But, he is self-giving. Misogynistic husbands live to demean their wives. Secondly, men should care for their wives as they care for their bodies. Most people would not abuse their bodies. So, the same way we care for our bodies is the same way husbands should care for their wives. Jesus is the ultimate role model for men. He loves, serves, cares and provides for his Woman – the Church.
Why Misogyny Is Incompatible With the Bible
Here are five observations about why I believe misogyny is in conflict with the Bible:
- God created women in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). Each woman has God’s essence residing in her. Therefore, every woman deserves honor and respect. To abuse women is to violate the image of God in them. Consequently, to break the image of God women is to insult God himself.
- Jesus honored and respected women. During a time when men relegated women to lower a lower social status and could not be a disciple, Jesus taught Mary as a disciple just like he would have taught the men (Luke 10:39). Moreover, women funded and thereby were partially responsible for Jesus’ itinerant ministry (Luke 8:1-3). Also, Jesus rescued women from misogyny (John 8:1-11).
- The early church honored, respected, and elevated women. Women were prophets (Acts 21:8-9), teachers (Titus 2:3-5), deacons (Romans 16:1-2), and all kinds of workers in the early church (Romans 16:12). So, one of the residual effects of the cross was rescuing women from a misogynistic culture. Jesus came to elevate women, not subject them to abuse and degradation.
- Women were the primary witnesses to the empty tomb (Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10). This is important for at least two reasons. First, women occupied a low rung on the Jewish social ladder. Secondly, men regarded the testimony of women as worthless. Therefore, women could not serve as legal witnesses in a court of law. But, Jesus trusted the reporting of the resurrection to women.
- In Christ, there is no fundamental distinction between believers on account of gender, race or social status (Galatians 3:28).
Misogyny Described is Different from Misogyny Endorsed
Some critics read the Bible and see scenes rape and abuse of women (Genesis 34:1-3; 2 Samuel 13:14). Therefore, they conclude that the Bible endorses misogyny. For instance, let’s say a person sees a murder. If they describe to the police what happened, this doesn’t mean they support murder. They are just retelling what they saw. The same holds true for biblical writers. Thus, the authors merely describe the sordid details of misogynistic attitudes and behavior. They don’t ever endorse abusive treatment of women. Describing misogyny is different from supporting misogyny.
Rooted in a Jesus Worldview
So, the Bible is very clear. We should never objectify women. There is never an excuse to do so. We cannot blame an alpha male personality. We can’t dismiss it as “macho talk.” We cannot blame the environment. Abusing women is incompatible with the Bible. Plain and straightforward.
However, when our worldview is rooted in the Jesus ethic, the results will always be to honor, respect and elevate women. Jesus treated women with the utmost dignity, respect, and honor. Therefore, we should do the same.
What are ways men objectify, demean, and abuse women?
How can we do a better job elevating and dignifying women?